Emsland is an ideal place for nature lovers, active vacationers and families. The region in the southwest of Lower Saxony attracts with moor landscapes, castles and ocean giants.
Peat barges used to glide silently over the long canals here. For centuries, the moor was the only source of income for the people of Emsland. Those who visit the peat museum in Geeste learn all about the privation-filled life of the peat farmers. An attraction, not only for children, is the farmhouse with stables, garden and the four native breeds of domestic animals: "Bentheimer sheep" (beautiful white wool), "Buntes Bentheimer pig" (a lot on the ribs), "Westfälische Totleger" (a breed of chicken that has been around for 400 years) and "Diepholzer Landgeese" (snow-white and roundish).
Today, the Emsland region has long since established itself as a vacation destination among nature enthusiasts and families, attracting visitors with its beautiful villages, green expanses and miles of bike paths and waterways. And it can even boast spectacular superlatives: For example, there are the megalithic tombs along the Road of Megalithic Culture in the Hümmling Nature Park (from hömil, small stone). Nowhere in Germany are they as close together as here. The best thing is that although they are not as famous as the Egyptian pyramids, some of them are a thousand years older.
Or the matter of oil. Who knows that the largest German oil fields in terms of area are located on the mainland in the municipality of Twist? The "black gold" flows not only in the Persian Gulf or in Dallas, but also in Emsland.
And would you have thought that from Papenburg - after all, 40 kilometers down the Ems to the North Sea - ocean liners are coming? And from the largest covered dry dock in the world - from the Meyer shipyard. You can also marvel at several historic ship replicas on the canals in the old town, stroll over beautiful old bridges, all the way to Meyer's Mill, a windmill from 1888 and crusty mill bread from today.
In the Hümmling Nature Park, near the small town of Sögel, hides another sensation: Clemenswerth Castle. The entire 18th century ensemble with chapel, stables and numerous pavilions is the last preserved complex of its kind in Europe. The most striking feature is that the princely palace is in the center, with all the other buildings grouped around it in a star shape. This is how it should have been back then: the absolutist ruler always in the center! There are special tours for children through the 300-year-old walls. An encounter with the castle ghost is included. A matter of honor!
Another highlight for youngsters: the Surwolds Wald recreation area with a climbing forest, a 300-meter summer toboggan run, heated outdoor pool and miniature golf course. That's the beauty of Emsland: Whether you want to paddle, splash, fish or sail - it's never far to the nearest water.
And cyclists can also let off steam to their heart's content. The network of bike paths stretches over 3500 kilometers, with a total of more than 50 routes to choose from. Numerous rental companies offer touring bikes and e-bikes, and there is at least one repair shop in every town. Services such as luggage transfer, GPS tracks for downloading and cycling maps for printing are a matter of course.
If you prefer to take a canoe instead, you can explore the region on 440 kilometers of waterways. Or: You can simply stretch your legs at one of the 18 bathing lakes, close your eyes and enjoy your freedom in the midst of nature. Switching off can be so easy.
Cover photo: A walk with the wow factor: six impressive ship replicas lie in the Papenburg canals © Emsland Tourismus GmbH/ Birgit Janknecht
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